Senators Patrick Leahy and Thom Tillis recently introduced a bill to evaluate the transparency of patent examinations and ultimately improve the quality of patents. The bill requires the comptroller general of the United States to assess and provide information on metrics for patent quality.
The senators explained that the patent examination process has not kept up with advancements in technology over the past few decades, and the bill outlines the need for greater resources to increase efficiency. The bipartisan bill, the Patent Examination and Quality Improvement Act, would give patent examiners more time to examine patent applications. The proposed law would also increase resources available to the Patent Office and provide examiners with technical training, all of which will contribute to higher-quality patents. The comptroller general is expected to provide clarity on what constitutes patent quality and on the need for these improvements via a report not later than a year from the date of the bill’s enactment.
The proposed law would then require the Patent Office director to develop guidance for examiners on how to improve performance based on the quality metrics developed by the comptroller general. The guidance would also train examiners on emerging technology and modernize the Patent Office’s information technology systems as well as curbing fraud and abuse of the current patent application system.
Patents of spurious quality undermine innovation, especially in the software and information industries. Greater certainty about the meaning of patent quality would make it easier for patent holders to determine patent validity and value. The bill, if enacted, would go a long way in ensuring transparency and curbing costs associated with uncertainty, thus saving patent holders a substantial amount of money in research and investment.